Happy Hanukkah to all those celebrating this evening. In this season of giving thanks, I feel especially grateful for the opportunity to serve our community. A large part of my service involves reading and listening to your varied perspectives—from local issues such as housing at N. Berkeley BART and street paving to the war in the Middle East. I offer my prayers for peace, and my prayers for those in our community who have lost loved ones and are experiencing deep grief and pain.
I respect the right of all to protest, and I understand and sympathize with strongly-held beliefs on issues of war and peace that we have heard of late in the Council chambers. Because of the disruption at recent Council meetings, the Mayor has been advised by our City Attorney to invoke an arcane section of the state Government Code to shift meetings to a secure conference room—where the Council meeting has proceeded solely on Zoom. In this format, some anonymous commenters have spewed racist and antisemitic hate speech, which I unequivocally condemn. I am shaken by the rise in bigotry and hatred against Jewish people, and violence against Palestinian Americans—and I ask that we strive to be a community of individuals that stands united against antisemitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of hate.
I send you my warmest wishes for the holiday season.
In this newsletter:
- Final BART Special Council Meeting on Dec. 12 Beginning at 3 p.m.
- Street Paving and Status of Hopkins Street
- Submit Your Feedback on AC Transit Route Changes
- Holiday Events: Holiday at the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza (Dec. 8), Hanukkah Candle Lighting at Cedar Rose Park (Dec. 9), Neighborhood Meet and Greet & Holiday Drive for Golden Bear Permanent Supportive Housing Residents (Dec. 21)
Tues., Dec. 12: Final BART Special Council Meeting Beginning at 3 p.m.
After more than 50 public meetings and nearly six years of planning, the Council will hold what is likely to be our final meeting related to development of the N. Berkeley BART Station next week. The Special Council Meeting will take place on Tues., Dec. 12 beginning at 3 p.m. to adopt Objective Design Standards (ODS) to guide development at the N. Berkeley station.
North Berkeley BART Station. Photo: Jill Martinucci
It’s important to keep in mind that the ODS are a general guide for development, and the developer’s proposal is the real project before us. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-981-7110).
Street Paving and Hopkins Street
On Nov. 28, the City Council approved a five-year paving plan, shown below. I’m pleased that so many streets in the equity zone (shown in cross-hatch) are receiving attention after decades of under-investment. Moving forward, the number of street miles paved annually will jump to an average of 9.4, nearly four times the historic average of just 2.5 miles annually. This is due to Council action to more than double the street paving budget—a cause I have championed. More detail on the street paving budget and the status of Hopkins Street is provided below.
1) Money Matters: The Council Has More Than Doubled Its Street Paving Budget, And As A Result, Nearly Quadrupled the Annual Projected Number of Paved Street Miles in FY 2023-24 and Beyond
Historically, the City of Berkeley has not adequately funded street paving, spending only about $7 million annually—an amount that led to a declining average pavement condition and paving just 2.5 miles annually. If we had continued on that path, our average pavement condition index (PCI) would be rated “poor” by 2035, reaching a low of 42/100 as shown below.
Over the next five years—from FY 2023-24 through FY 2027-28—an annual average of 9.4 miles will be paved due to Council’s action to increase the paving budget by a total of about $10 million annually. This is a huge victory, and I’m proud to have raised the alarm about the condition of our streets with two major Council items in 2022 that called for dramatically increasing our paving budget. An $8 million annual infusion is the result of a Council item I co-authored with Councilmember Susan Wengraf and Mayor Arreguín. I will continue to push the Council to add more funding for street paving, so that our average pavement condition can begin to improve, rather than simply hold steady. I authored a Council item earlier this year that requests an additional $4.7 million for street paving; this additional infusion can help to ensure that streets in “holdover” status (more on that below) can be paved as soon as possible.
2) Process Matters: Numerous Streets Are in “Holdover” Status Like Hopkins for Various Reasons
What does “holdover” status mean? The Council report states, “…staff are committed to ensuring these held over segments are completed as soon as possible and ideally no later than this five year period” (emphasis added). Listed below are all eight streets currently in holdover status, along with the pavement condition—as shown in the staff report (see p. 16 of 28). As you can see, Hopkins is not the only street with a low pavement condition that is in holdover status.
- Vistamont Avenue from Woodmont Avenue to South End (Pavement Condition 39/100) & North End to Woodmont Avenue (Pavement Condition 9/100)
- Grizzly Peak Boulevard from Spruce Street to Marin Avenue – Pavement Condition 19-23/100
- Woodmont Avenue from Wildcat Canyon Road to Sunset Lane – Pavement Condition 22-54/100
- Hopkins Street from San Pablo Avenue to Sutter Street – Pavement Condition 23-70/100
- Woodmont Court from Woodmont Avenue (North) to Woodmont Avenue (South) – Pavement Condition 36/100
- Rosemont Avenue from Creston Road to Vistamont Avenue – Pavement Condition 37
- Telegraph Avenue from Bancroft Way to Dwight Way – Pavement Condition 38/100
- Creston Road from Grizzly Peak Boulevard to Sunset Lane – Pavement Condition 53/100
3) Policy Matters: What Is the Status of Hopkins?A Council majority voted to pave Hopkins Street no later than 2027, which aligns with the commitment made by staff in the Council report to pave all holdover streets within the next five years. All holdover streets, including Hopkins, will be discussed by the Council’s Facilities, Infrastructure, Transportation, Environment & Sustainability (FITES) Policy Committee so that a specific action plan can be recommended to the full Council. In this regard, I believe that Council’s adopted policies, found in the Vision Zero Action Plan, Bicycle Plan, Pedestrian Plan, and Climate Action Plan, should guide the safety and green infrastructure improvements that are planned for Hopkins Street.
Submit Your Feedback on AC Transit Route Changes
AC Transit has embarked on a “Realign” initiative to redesign its system in light of shifts in travel patterns resulting from the pandemic. The system is currently soliciting feedback on three draft network proposals: Balanced Coverage Scenario, Frequent Service Scenario, and Unconstrained Vision Scenario. AC Transit is using the feedback from this phase to develop a final network proposal for public feedback.
Below I have specified three issues to which I would like to call your attention and invite you to share you input with AC Transit (e-mail email@example.com by Dec. 13). You can also attend a Community Workshop TODAY from 6-7:30 p.m. on Zoom or attend the Board Meeting and Open House on Dec. 13.Service to Berkeley Marina. Under the Balanced Coverage Scenario, current Line 51B service from Downtown Berkeley BART to the Berkeley marina is replaced by Line B12 that traverses Westbrae, as shown below. This proposed change could make connecting to the marina (and future high-capacity all-electric ferry service) more challenging for a large share of transit riders.
- Stop at N. Berkeley BART. Under both the Balanced Coverage and Frequent Service Scenarios, the current Line 52 stops on Cedar (and continues along Cedar), rather than turning south on Sacramento to make a stop at the N. Berkeley BART Station—shown below. This proposed change could be inconvenient for riders transferring to BART and future station residents.
- Service in Berkeley Hills. Under the Frequent Service Scenario, current Lines 65 and 67 are consolidated along Spruce and Euclid, and service along three miles of Grizzly Peak is eliminated—shown below. The purpose of this service reduction, according to AC Transit, is to improve frequency on high-ridership lines. I am concerned that this proposed change would make it harder for people in the hills to reduce their reliance on private cars.